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Hardcover | $42.00 Short | £28.95 | ISBN: 9780262012973 | 272 pp. | 7 x 9 in | 7 figures, 3 tables| March 2009
Paperback | $21.00 Text | £14.95 | ISBN: 9780262515993 | 272 pp. | 7 x 9 in | 7 figures, 3 tables| January 2011

Essential Info

The Social Neuroscience of Empathy


In recent decades, empathy research has blossomed into a vibrant and multidisciplinary field of study. The social neuroscience approach to the subject is premised on the idea that studying empathy at multiple levels (biological, cognitive, and social) will lead to a more comprehensive understanding of how other people's thoughts and feelings can affect our own thoughts, feelings, and behavior. In these cutting-edge contributions, leading advocates of the multilevel approach view empathy from the perspectives of social, cognitive, developmental, and clinical psychology and cognitive/affective neuroscience.

Chapters include a critical examination of the various definitions of the empathy construct; surveys of major research traditions based on these differing views (including empathy as emotional contagion, as the projection of one's own thoughts and feelings, and as a fundamental aspect of social development); clinical and applied perspectives, including psychotherapy and the study of empathy for other people's pain; various neuroscience perspectives; and discussions of empathy's evolutionary and neuroanatomical histories, with a special focus on neuroanatomical continuities and differences across the phylogenetic spectrum.

The new discipline of social neuroscience bridges disciplines and levels of analysis. In this volume, the contributors' state-of-the-art investigations of empathy from a social neuroscience perspective vividly illustrate the potential benefits of such cross-disciplinary integration.

Contributors: C. Daniel Batson, R. J. R. Blair, Karina S. Blair, Jerold D. Bozarth, Ann Buysse, Susan F. Butler, Michael Carlin, C. Sue Carter, Kenneth D. Craig, Mirella Dapretto, Jean Decety, Mathias Dekeyser, Ap Dijksterhuis, Robert Elliott, Natalie D. Eggum, Nancy Eisenberg, Norma Deitch Feshbach, Seymour Feshbach, Liesbet Goubert, Leslie S. Greenberg, Elaine Hatfield, James Harris, William Ickes, Claus Lamm, Yen-Chi Le, Mia Leijssen, Raymond S. Nickerson, Jennifer H. Pfeifer, Stephen W. Porges, Richard L. Rapson, Simone G. Shamay-Tsoory, Rick B. van Baaren, Matthijs L. van Leeuwen, Andries van der Leij, Jeanne C. Watson

Social Neuroscience series

About the Editors

Jean Decety is the Irving B. Harris Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of Chicago. He is the coeditor of The Social Neuroscience of Empathy (MIT Press, 2007).

William Ickes is Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of Texas, Arlington.


"Social neuroscience is providing compelling, novel insights into fundamental human capacities, such as the ability to understand the minds of others to empathize with them. This volume provides readable, up-to-date reviews of theories and research that cross levels of analysis from groups to neurons, with applications ranging from education to psychotherapy. Experts and students alike will benefit from this timely review. A superb read for all those interested in the social brain."
Todd F. Heatherton, Champion International Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Dartmouth College

"Decety and Ickes' new edited volume, The Social Neuroscience of Empathy, embraces the complexity of empathy rather than shrinking away from or ignoring it. I anticipate this book to be one that I will frequently consult, as well as one to which I will refer many current and future students."
Sara D. Hodges, Department of Psychology, University of Oregon